HOW TO PROPAGATE COWSLIPS AND PRIMROSES
These elegant native wildflowers are slowly disappearing from the English countryside and although it's illegal to collect plant from the wild it is legal to collect their seed for use in propagation. If you have access to plants from cultivated stock them you can also propagate from them by division after they have finished flowering in the autumn.
PROPAGATION BY SEED
Once you have your seed, rather than use a standard seed tray try to use a deeper container, something around 4 inches deep as this will help prevent your compost mix from drying out. This is important as low moisture level can reduce primula seed viability. Take a good seed compost like John Innes seed and potting and mix in a quarter of its volume of vermiculite - although some people advocate a completely soilless seed compost for better results. Fill the container to within an inch of its top then give it a light watering. Next, finely spray the surface with a copper fungicide such as cheshunt compound.
Sow the seed thinly and evenly, and leave uncovered. In fact the seeds from most primula varieties should never be covered with any depth of soil as they will need the light as a trigger for germination. Slowly immerse the container till the surface is wet, but do not allow water to seep over the edge of the container. Then, when you lift the container from the water the seed should be sitting tight against the soil. If you are feeling cautious spray the surface again with the copper compound. Now place the whole container inside a clear plastic bag and secure it closed with a loose knot or plastic-covered wire. This will then make additional watering unnecessary until after the seeds have germinated. Although this may well seem to be an odd technique, this is also done to prevent the compost from drying out reducing the failure of germination.
Once the first set of true leaves have developed the plants can be transplanted out into a good quality, free draining multi-purpose compost - again you may need to add vermiculite as a quarter of your mix. Keep them well-watered and in partial shade till they are ready to plant out into the garden. Keep an eye out for aphids.
For related articles click onto the following links:
BULLEY'S PRIMROSE - Primula bulleyana
HOW TO GROW AURICULAS FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW NATIVE WILD PRIMROSES AND POLYANTHUS FROM SEED
OLD ENGLISH PLANTS - Polyanthus ‘Gold Lace’
POLYANTHUS 'GOLD LACE'
PRIMROSE AND COWSLIP PESTS AND DISEASES
THE ORCHID PRIMULA - Primula vialii